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Pair kept 69 animals in family home

A husband and wife with five children kept 69 animals, including 56 large dogs, as family pets in their four-bedroom semi-detached home, a court has heard.

When the RSPCA raided the house where James and Nicola Hood lived with their young family they were "swamped by a sea of dogs" in the living room and "too many to count" in the back garden.

In addition to 56 dogs, including huskies, German shepherds, rottweilers and Staffordshire bull terriers, they also found three cats living in the bathroom, six birds including love birds in various dirty cages, and four chinchillas.

They also found one of the couple's children, just nine months old, in a bed whose sheets were soiled with bird droppings, the court heard.

Mr Hood, 40, and his 31-year-old wife admitted nine animal cruelty charges at Taunton Magistrates' Court relating to animals kept at their home in Queen's Road, Minehead, Somerset.

Magistrates were told that the majority were animals in danger of being put down by owners who could not cope with them, but that they themselves had become overwhelmed by the number of animals in their home.

Prosecutor Neil Scott said RSPCA officers visited the house on October 17 last year and were immediately hit by a "strong smell of ammonia" as they entered the "dirty" house and opened a door into the living room. He added: "She (the lead inspector) described at that point her and her colleague being swamped by a sea of dogs that came running towards them."

The couple both admitted three charges of causing unnecessary suffering to animals and six of failing to take reasonable steps to ensure the needs of the animals were met.

Ian Denley, defending them both, said they thought of the house as an "animal sanctuary", taking in animals from friends and from people contacted via the internet which might otherwise have been put down.

Sentencing was adjourned to a hearing next month and the couple were released on bail.


From Belfast Telegraph